Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Showing His True Colors

Charles Krauthammer has a column in the latest Time magazine where he looks at the roots of Democratic Bush-hating and what it portends for 2004. But the very first paragraph is what caught my attention:
Bill Moyers may have his politics, but his deferential demeanor and almost avuncular television style made him the Mr. Rogers of American politics. So when he leaves his neighborhood to go to a "Take Back America" rally and denounces George W. Bush's "government of, by and for the ruling corporate class," leading a "right-wing wrecking crew" engaged in "a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States way of governing," you know that something is going on.
Switch politics. Can you imagine a Republican trying this and then being taken seriously as a news broadcaster?

I know that folks like Sean Hannity have television programs while they are active in Republican politics. Same with James Carville, for that matter. But these folks, and more like them, are commentators, purveyors of opinion on talk shows. Viewers know immediately that there is no pretense of impartiality and neutrality in these programs.

Moyers is a slippery slope. He's not The News Hour, PBS' evening news show, but he functions much like, say 20/20 or Dateline with a harder news edge. And none of the anchors or reporters on those shows have overt political attachments. His viewers do approach him as a neutral and inquiring mind, passionate but fair. His comments above put the lie to that. How can his viewers watch his programs with any expectation of balance and fairness now?

Or do they? He does have a following among many because he is seen as providing the necessary balance not otherwise found in the "big" networks news shows, albeit a very far Left balance as opposed to a conservative antidote like Fox News. Some believe the major nets are as compromised and conservative as the Right thinks they are leftist liberals. But would these people be bothered by say, Dan Rather appearing at a Democratic fundraiser, as he did once. Rather later apologised, claiming he'd accepted his daughter's invite not knowing, because he sensed the appearance of inappropriateness. Would Moyers say the same, if questioned?

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